ATV Federation builds bridge over troubled waterway

Members of the ATV Federation of P.E.I. are making improvements to their trail in order to reduce environmental damage, after two women were fined for illegally driving through a watercourse earlier this year.

2 women had damaged the waterway after driving through with off-road vehicles in July

Volunteers build a bridge over a tributary of the West River in Brookvale, P.E.I. for all-terrain vehicles to drive over. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

Chainsaws slice through planks and four-by-four posts as members of the P.E.I. ATV Federation try to prevent further destruction to a watercourse damaged by off-road vehicles earlier this year. 

Almost two kilometres from the nearest road, about 20 volunteers were building a bridge across a tributary of the West River in Brookvale on Saturday morning.

It's the same spot where two women drove through with two all-wheel drive Jeeps in July and were fined for violating the Environmental Protection Act.

Wade MacKinnon with the P.E.I. Department of Justice and Public Safety said some of the damage in that area was also caused by ATVs.

Preventing environmental damage

President of the P.E.I. ATV Federation, Peter Mellish, said he's trying to keep that from happening again.

Two women had caused some of the damage to the stream bed and river banks in Brookvale, said Wade MacKinnon with the P.E.I. Department of Justice and Public Safety. MacKinnon said ATVs also caused some of the damage shown. (Submitted by Wade MacKinnon)

"As ATV drivers we want to be good stewards of the land so we took it upon ourselves, the problem that was here," he said.

In order to do that, volunteers are building a bridge almost 20 meters long and 2.5 meters wide that will cross above the watercourse.

"This will give us permanent access to the area without going near the watercourse, and letting the stream do what it needs to do," said Mellish.

Creating a private trail system

They've had to haul about 150 pieces of lumber, telephone polls, nails and building equipment through the woods in order to build the bridge.

"It's quite a task, we had to be well organized. It took us probably about 120 hours so far just to get to this point," said Mellish.

P.E.I. ATV Federation President Peter Mellish said the bridge will give ATV drivers permanent access to the trail without cause further damage to the waterway. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

The Federation has been working with local watershed groups to create a private trail system across the Island. 

Mellish said this project alone has cost around $3,000. Part of the funding was granted by the Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council, with the rest being raised by the Federation.

Trying to grow the industry

Building this bridge is part of an effort to bridge the gap between concerned landowners and ATV drivers. 

"We're trying to do this professionally, so that's it's long-term and sustainable so we can grow the industry," Mellish said. 

The project is expected to be finished by the end of Saturday, but the group plans to return in the spring to place more rocks around the bridge and plant grass seed.

Mellish said he hopes to be the first one to drive across.